While going to the spa, joining yoga classes, meditation or visiting a shrink can all help in the quest for peace, but as Gautama Buddha once put it, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” The most content people that I have come across in my life invariably shared these 6 qualities. I feel they require, a lot of self training and self discipline, hence, I still struggle. But truth be told, you can’t be an epitome of inner peace every day, the best you can do is ‘try. Here are the qualities, along with some tips that might help you in your journey to inner peace:
1. Nail the art of acceptance
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is the very core. You get this straight and you have found the secret to lifelong happiness. I once read in Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to stop worrying and start living”, that when faced with a difficult situation, imagine the very worst, picture it in your mind and then develop acceptance of it. It struck me like a thunderbolt and brought home the reality, that ‘yes, in essence it is all about acceptance’. Psychologists, claim that most mental illnesses spring out of maladjustment and the lack of acceptance of one’s circumstances.
It’s good to keep reminding yourself, that every day is not sunny. While, the rain may soak your clothes or spoil your hairdo, sometimes learning to dance in the rain is the only way to go.
2. Learn to forgive
It isn’t easy to forego, when people hurt or injure us. Our basic instinct is to get back and hurt them in at least the similar manner if not more. However, true inner strength not only calls for letting go of the hurt but also empathizing and trying to reason and understand why someone had to resort to hurtful means. Sounds like developing qualities of a higher being, huh? Well yes, that’s what inner strength involves, evolving into a better and stronger version of ourselves.
Some people, on the contrary are more prone to blaming themselves, they have set such high standards for themselves, that even if someone else wrongs them, they take it as their own fault, or their own shortfall to recognize that the other person was capable of hurting them. This self blaming is very unreasonable and can be very destructive. Forgiving yourself and people who hurt you is perhaps the hardest of all the 6 qualities to develop. But developing it can be the most freeing also. When you forgive, you release a burden from upon your own self. Grudges and anger can weigh very heavily on the soul and can be very exhausting. So learn to forgive, not because the person who wronged you (even if out of sheer meanness), deserves forgiveness, but because you owe it to yourself. Holding on, becomes like a constant reminder. It’s not the ill done to us, but our holding on to it that disrupts our peace. So why should we hold on to negativity and suffer? Why should we not be free and at peace?
3. Don’t compete unnecessarily
Some people indulge in this because they get a kick out of winning. For others this is triggered by a deep rooted insecurity, to prove themselves. In either case, people who are unnecessarily competing are mostly left with feelings of inadequacy. Competing without good cause puts you under undue pressure, which can be very draining.
Here’s an example, I once had a friend, who was a lovely person in general but if she ever saw another friend get a new pair of shoes or glasses, you could be sure she would, appear within a few days with a more expensive and sometimes even better version, than the other friend possessed. From a family of over achievers, she was a mediocre student maybe that was the reason, behind her need to prove herself, better in some ways, time and again. Needless, to say deep down she was a sad soul. The reality is, that there will always be someone better than you and you can’t always win. While, some competition is healthy and good for progress, excess can be self damaging and destructive.
4. Be generous
When I say generous, it doesn’t mean just monetarily helping someone. It means being generous when you praise someone, generous when someone needs your help or time. Generosity is the act of giving, so give in every way you can and as much as you can. It’s an act of selflessness, when you part with the things you love. Giving doesn’t leave you with less, it empowers you. It strengthens your character, makes you realize that nothing is indispensible and you can learn to live without just about anything. Nothing can replace, the joy you feel when you feed a homeless person. Your 10 bucks that fed someone, may not be a fraction of your wealth, but perhaps it made a penniless person that much richer. Giving also makes you realize that you ‘have things to give’, while those receiving don’t sometimes, which leads to another very important quality needed to attain peace of mind, gratefulness.
5. Practice gratitude
When we are generous, and reach out to those less fortunate, we are often overwhelmed with intense feelings of gratitude. The thought, that ‘we have’ when there are so many ‘have-nots’, is very humbling. Sometimes, it’s the act of gratitude itself that can direct us to generosity, to give and share the many blessing that we have. True gratitude is not just gratefulness for all the good things we possess but also for every hardship that we face. Thankfulness for each lesson that we learnt not matter how hard it was, deriving the goodness from the ills, similar to a tree that survives the thunder and continues to stand erect come what may, is the true test of strength. It’s one of the more difficult qualities to develop.
Furthermore, according to Rhonda Byrne, in her book “The Power”, when we are continuously, thankful for all the good things in our life, more good things follow. While, that’s just a belief, the reality is a grateful soul does expend more time on positive thoughts than negative ones. As the positivity overtakes, a sense of calm and peace descends upon the person.
6. Patience is a virtue
Ever since the advent of new age technology, life has become so fast paced, that hours have replaced minutes and minutes have replaced seconds to nanoseconds. As a result, we have become increasingly restless and impatient. Just a little wait, in a queue, in a traffic jam and we get frustrated and start wishing, we had wings. Patience is no more seen as a virtue, it’s looked upon as something that slows you down. How can you ever expect to have inner peace, when there is a storm going on, without?! Chances are NEVER unless you train yourself otherwise.
Begin by trying to be patient in the smallest of things. For instance, you are at a doctor’s, and there are quite a few patients before you. In such a situation, there isn’t much you can do (especially, if you don’t have wi-fi) except bite your nails or start pacing to and fro in the clinic, reflecting your lack of patience. At such a point, check yourself, notice your impatient gestures and try to control them. Sit calmly, and try to think of whatever you find most relaxing, maybe picture yourself in a huge garden on a sunny day with roses all around. You don’t have much choice, you can either keep biting your nails and allow the storm to keep brewing within you (and also annoying the hell out of other people), or you can try transporting yourself mentally to a place you would like to be. So patience is basically a choice you have to make between spending the one hour waiting in a composed manner or in agitation, fidgeting. Patience, gives you a sense of power and control over a situation, makes you feel greater than any problem. While its absence does the opposite, makes you feel weak and helpless like a child who has no control, but is controlled by whatever he/she is faced.
To sum up inner peace is basically inner strength, developing qualities which are against man’s innate nature. It means going on an altogether, other level, turning your weaknesses into your strengths. It’s a cumbersome journey, that requires an iron will and a lot of ‘self’ training but it’s worth every bit. Contentment is the greatest wealth of all, which no money can buy.